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THE REDBREAST AND THE BUTTERFLY.
ART thou the bird whom man loves best,
The pious bird with the scarlet breast,
Our little English Robin ;
The bird that comes about our doors
When autumn winds are sobbing?
Art thou the Peter of Norway boors?
Their Thomas in Finland,
And Russia far inland ?
The bird whom by some name or other
All men who know thee call their brother,
The darling of children and men ?
Could Father Adam open his eyes
And see this sight beneath the skies,
He'd wish to close them again.
If the butterfly knew but his friend,
Hither his flight he would bend :
And find his way to me.
Under the branches of the tree,
In and out, he darts about ;
Can this be the bird, to man so good,
That, after their bewildering,
Did cover with leaves the little children,
So painfully in the wood ?
What ail'd thee, Robin, that thou could'st pursue A beautiful creature,
THE REDBREAST AND THE BUTTERFLY.
That is gentle by nature ?
Beneath the summer sky
From flower to flower let him fly;
'Tis all that he wishes to do.
The cheerer thou of our indoor sadness,
He is the friend of our summer gladness :
What hinders, then, that ye should be
Playmates in the sunny weather,
And fly about in the air together?
His beautiful wings in crimson are drest,
A crimson as bright as thine own!
If thou would'st be happy in thy nest,
O pious bird I whom man loves best,
Love him, or leave him alone !
With little here to do or see
Of things that in the great world be,
Sweet Daisy ! oft I talk to thee,
For thou art worthy :
Thou unassuming common-place
Of nature with that homely face,
And yet with something of a grace,
Which love makes for thee !
Oft do I sit by thee at ease,
And weave a web of similes,
Loose types of things by all degrees
Thoughts of thy raising :
And many a fond and idle name
I give to thee, for praise or blame,
As is the humour of the game,
While I am gazing.
A nun demure, of lowly port ;
Or sprightly maiden of love's court,
In thy simplicity the sport
Of all temptations ;
A queen in crown of rubies drest ;
A starveling in a scanty vest ;
Are all, as seem to suit thee best,
A little Cyclops, with one eye
Staring to threaten and defy-
That thought comes next—and instantly
The freak is over.
The shape will vanish, and behold !
A silver shield with boss of gold,
That spreads itself, some fairy bold
In fight to cover.
I see thee glittering from afar :-
And then thou art a pretty star
Not quite so fair as many are
In heaven above thee !
Yet like a star, with glittering crest,
Self-poised in air, thou seem'st to rest;
May peace come never to his nest
Who shall reprove thee !
Sweet flower ! for by that name at last,
When all my reveries are past,
I call thee, and to that cleave fast,
Sweet silent creature !
That breath'st with me in sun and air,
Do thou, as thou art wont, repair
My heart with gladness, and a share
Of thy meek nature !
BRIGHT flower, whose home is everywhere !
A pilgrim bold in nature's care,
And all the long year through the heir
Of joy or sorrow,
Methinks that there abides in thee
Some concord with humanity,
Given to no other flower I see
The forest thorough!
And wherefore ? Man is soon deprest;
A thoughtless thing! who, once unblest,
Does little on his memory rest,
Or on his reason,
And thou would'st teach him how to find
A shelter under every wind,
A hope for times that are unkind,
And every season
Thou wanderest the wide world about,
Uncheck'd by pride or scrupulous doubt,
With friends to greet thee, or without,
Yet pleased and willing ;
Meek, yielding to the occasion's call,
And all things suffering from all,
Thy function apostolical
In peace fulfilling.